Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Max out on photo quota!

I just realised that I had max out on my 1G photo quota for this blog!

Wondering what I should do now?

Start a new blog?
Delete old post?
Give up blogging?

Damn! This is annoying

Food Review: Gunther@ Purvis Street, Singapore

Singapore is one those cities that appears to have many good dining spots but unfortunately in reality, I am often met with disappointing service, meal and/or value. In this rare occasion, I found a rare gem (by Singapore's standard) in Gunther's. 

It was my man's birthday and our wedding anniversary and I chanced upon reviews on Gunther's. The menu looked great, the reviews though mixed was veered towards positive. The positive experience starts with our email correspondence since I am residing overseas. The staff Yuliz was polite, prompt and projected a keen sense of hospitality service with care to details and apt questions for the night arrangements. I had enquired about flowers to be left at the restaurant and was told it could be dropped off anytime as there will always be someone around. I was not disappointed on the actual day itself. 

Starting with service.

It was rainy night and there were staff awaiting in the rain with brollies to meet their guest alighting from the cabs. Brownie points for that. After being warmly greeted, we were promptly seated in as quiet corner as possible as per requested. The flowers were swiftly brought out as per arranged and that was a nice "opening" to the night.

The dinner specials of the night was introduced to us once we were nicely settled down. Jit (I hope I gotten the name right) was warm and friendly, and patiently went through the list with us. He was non-pushy, affable and knows the menu list, the food prep and description of the dish was thorough. Before leaving us to think through our main and starter "choice", he left us with the option of possibly a choice of letting him suggest our dinner options should we be overly spoilt for choice. Everything sounded yummy!

In the end, knowing our goal was seafood and my husband was keen on the fresh lobster, he suggested the signature cold angel hair pasta with cavier, a shared pen shell starter for two, and a shared lobster thermidor. Whilst I was also gunning for the freshly oven baked meat, Jit was wise to tell me to hold that order, finish my lobster and see how I feel like later. He was right, I was truly too full to proceed on after my lobster main.

Food review

I am usually not a big fan on cold starters but the Cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar was delightfully light and refreshing. On hindsight, I should have ordered one plate to share so that I could get another starter since the pasta was a good size portion. However we liked it so it's ok. The pasta had good consistency and texture and the flavor was definitely did not overwhelm, leaving our tastebuds nicely ready to sample the next dish.

The penshell with seafood consomme was another delight though I must admit the prawns in the consomme had a richer sweet flavor as compared to the actual shell meat. Everything was cooked right but some may expect a lighter broth version than what we had. However, the taste was just right for me and again, good portion size.

Our main was lobster thermidor and we had half each. I didnt think I would be full but I was wrong. By the time I was through, we were both very satisfied and this is the first time that I didnt want any more dessert. The lobster was fresh and succulent, nicely cooked such that it wasnt chewy yet retaining the full seafood flavor as any good chef worth their salt should with this dish. The pairing with the porcini mushroom was an excellent touch as it definitely enhanced the overall flavor for the dish and accentuate the lobster's flavor up a notch. The accompanying rice seemed to have a touch of lemongrass or something herby at least, and my partner loves it. 

By dessert time, I was struggling to decide. I didnt need more food but I had to since I was expecting the "Happy Birthday" candle moment. Between the apple tart, suze crepe and choc fondant, I was lost. My man wanted the crepe and I was trying to figure out how does one stick a candle on a crepe and so I forced myself to tell Jit to throw in the Choc fondant.

However what came next was a complete surprise. We were presented with a nice complimentary frozen fruit ice-cream like cake with a candle to boot! When all the birthday wishes and camera shots were done, Jit came to us and told us ever so kindly that he had actually not logged in our dessert order as he knew we are almost full. but he didnt want to ruin the surprise and so he still pretended to take our dessert order. I was grateful for his initiatives and consideration and gladly cancelled our dessert order since the complimentary cake was not only enough, but it was actually the type of cold dessert we were craving for:)

When we left, everything was in order. We were warmly given the birthday and happy anniversary greeting once more to round up the lovely night. One of the staff even chased after us just as we were boarding a cab, as my very contented satisfied birthday man had forgotten his birthday card left on the table.

Overall, we couldnt be more satisfied with the service and food. The bill came up to about SG$400, inclusive of a glass of dessert wine. To us, it was good value enough. Definitely infinitely better than the mediocre Ku De Ta meal we had earlier at MBS for the same price, even surpassing our experience at some of the Michelin places in Hong Kong.

Simple Honest Good Food. The chef has lived up to his vision and provided a food fare worthy of praise. This is one restaurant I would definitely look forward to returning to.

-Might be wise to come earlier so that you get the best pick of the specials since it's limited item.
- If you have special dietary requirements or allergies, best to remind server or inform during reservation as I recalled they did not reconfirm on any allergies precaution necessary to note during orders.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Small Handful of Singapore Bus Drivers going on strike

The news that caught my attention was Singapore SMRT PRC bus drivers going on strikes over wanting better pay. They boycott work and demand for better pay, citing comparison with drivers from Malaysia and Indonesia. (Source: Channelnewsasia: SMRT wage protest sees no-show by 62 drivers)

I support the idea of fair treatment to employees and I do respect these drivers hard work. However that does not translate into support for these foreign residents' idea of holding any company ransom via boycott of work. It is not the case that they are employed without a formal contract. It is NOT that these drivers did not know how much they are paid and the working hours before they took on the job. They should also know the company reserve the right to give increments as they deemed fit. If these drivers did indeed not know, then they only have themselves to blame for not doing due diligence.

I have no love for unreasonable behavior nor people as such. Succumbing to their requests and behavior will only serve to open a floodgate of problems in future. Everyone can just go on protest and strikes everytime they decided that they dont like the pay they are getting for themselves, or their peers get better pay increment than them. It's unbecoming to adopt and condone such tyrant attitude to hold employers by their balls over personal gains as such. I do not have all the details and perhaps they do have valid grievances but is this the best way going forward?

Unless SMRT has changed the drivers terms and conditions unilaterally, I see no grounds to acceding to their protest. If these drivers are so unhappy, then by all means, have the guts and resign and search for better paying jobs with whatever skillsets they have and can boast of. The exit door is there, 24hrs/7days. They just need to walk through it, Dont be a coward and cling on to the seat and act like an adult cry baby. However if the company has indeed been inapproperiate and unfair in its dealing, it should admit its internal oversight and system flaw. If the changes are in accordance to skillsets, eg Malaysian/ SG drivers can speak more languages than China drivers thus the pay difference, then even such should be made clear with followup actions. One cannot employ an employee not meeting all the checklist and then turn around to deal them an unfair card either.

Previously, the saga of local bus drivers protests had merits. That was when the company went ahead to change the working hours resulting in worse off pay package and longer working hours. That I can completely understand the angle the employees were coming from. However, I believe that went through proper channel of communication.

No. This is not about nationality card. It shouldnt be either. The person who is driving the bus is a fellow HUMAN. It doesnt matter where he came from or the accent.

Regardless of origins, every employee should indeed not be shortchanged unfairly.
However, there is a distinct difference between an employer acting in bad faith versus drivers wanting a bigger share of wages.

I asked my friends if they rem what Heathrow Airport and British Airways are renowned for?
We have seen what happened to Foxconn in China.

Strikes is a vicious and deterimental viral behavior, regardless the reasons.
Is that what I want Singapore to be known for in future as well?
No. Not really.
It will not bore well.

So I hope SMRT does what it should do bounded within the legal confines.
Letting them go freely with no further repercussion or let them stay on with trust that the company will review the benefits ACROSS the board for ALL DRIVERS at the same time at the yearly, biannual or quarterly review. However, please do not condone such behavior and give in quietly without proper accountability to the public.

We are better society than that.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Food Review: Rubato@ 3 Clover Way, Singapore.

I should have blogged this earlier but being sick right after being back from hols and catching up school work for my Jap test took up most of my time and energy.

Now that I am nicely settled back in again, before my next trip back to Singapore this Friday, I thought I should get my lazy arse moving and update my food review before I forgot!

This time back in Singapore, I headed out to Clover Way (Near Bishan/ Marymount Mrt) In late October to try out this eatery known as Rubato, serving Western Italian food.

Unassuming Exterior of Rubato

It was a "last minute" Sunday trip as my earlier email reservation 3 weeks before did not get a response until Saturday itself. I was kindly informed by Marcus that their email system had been down but they had booked us in for 4 anyway as per requested. That was nice, except that it was a desperate scramble to reconfirm if my original dining company was still free that Sunday on such short notice! Thankfully, they were! Phew!

Reaching there by car was easy but its not exactly a stone's throw away from public transport. Unless you know the private residential area well, walking there might be a real challenge esp from Bishan Mrt. I cheated and took a cab from town.

The setting is a small place. Sunday is their weekly buffet day too though we went ala carte since I wanted to try what exactly is their signature and recommended dishes.

Food thoughts.

1. The clams were good. Very sweet and succulent. (Pix in iphone. have to upload later). Definitely on my must order for shellfish lovers.

2. Their Signature grilled squid was nicely served moist, and cooked perfectly without becoming rubbery nor chewy. It was certainly a freaking huge squid by the way but shared between four adults, each still got a good tasting portion which works out great!

Signature Charcoal Grilled Squid.
 3. Honestly, I cannot rem the name of this as it was one of the seafood specials on the chalkboard that was heartily recommended to us. It was nice, but frankly, it wasnt their best work though I still love the clams.

4. The fresh pear salad. I definitely take issue with this. It was bland and the pear was not sweet. Ok, they are not in charge of a pear farm but if the fruit aint great, dont put it in and swap it to something else like red apple.

There was supposed, and I emphasized "suppose"to be balsamic vinegar in it but i tasted none. I'm not sure if it was because it took so long to deliver a simple salad that I had to enquire about it and Marcus took it out in a flash and someone in the kitchen forgotten the last dash. I did point it out to Marcus it was tasteless and he immediately whip out a separate dish of balsamic of vinegar, while explaining that they had gone "lightly seasoned". I didnt want to argue and have him taste the "TASTELESS" salad which did not had any hint or tinge of sourish vinegar. Only reason, service has been really fantastic to date and I was willing to overlook a simple oversight.

Seasoning aside, the salad was fresh and a good portion. Would suggest to go with a dash of mustard honey if I am the chef to give it a hint of sweetness in event the fruits are terrible.

Balsamic Fresh Pear Salad.
 5. Seafood rivioli.

I cannot comment since I didnt taste this but the company I had told me it was good. Reason why I didnt taste it was because I was getting rapidly filled up and the sauces across various dishes recommended to us were getting abit too similar for my liking.

Seafood Rivioli
 6. The pork belly....has got to be the only disappointing and terrible dish I had here today. The pork was chewy and definitely did not go well with the sauce. Sorry... crispy pork and that tomato sauce just dont go hand in didnt enhance the flavour or the natural sweetness that should come with fresh pork. Instead the accompanying sauce overwhelm my palatte and the tough chewy texture was pretty off putting. Sorry, gotto fail this dish and hope they take it off the menu or at least relearn to cook pork belly right. It should be soft and tender like braised meat with crispy skin that any chef worth their salt should accomplish easily, but not here. Avoid at all cost. Your $5 roasted chai siew pork belly from hawker is cooked way better than this. And living in HK where pork belly dishes are soooooo perfected as a staple dish, sorry, this pork belly is almost a cousin that should not be mentioned.

7. Ah...what meal is complete without the dessert. My good old choc fondant with ice cream, ordered with a cup of chamomile tea.

The cake was cooked perfectly. No faults there, yet equally no surprises there. I meant seriously, its decent but not wow woah spectacular. If you like normal, COMMON, comfort food type dessert, this is a fail proof order but its not mind boggling if you know what I mean. I am not expecting unsual creativity but at best, this is what any decent homemaker can make. Australia Sydney dining spots definitely serve way better desserts than this and I had more unique dessert downunder in smaller and more unassuming dining spots..

The next downside is the size of the tea. Seriously, for the amount that I pay, I expected a pot, or at least a bigger mug of tea. That cup worth only 3 gulp was frankly a little bordering on rip off. Dont serve in such a small cup. You can get bigger cup for that tea bag. Also, this place needs more variety in drinks such as offering fresh juice. Let's go healthy.

Now that we have gotten food review out of the way, let's talk about service.

Service here at Rubato is impecable in comparison to  general (APPALLING) Singapore hospitality service standard I am accustomed to. Marcus was friendly without being intrusive, food was served fast to a point we had to request the kitchen to slow down as we are still ploughing through 3 courses between the 4 of us.

However, the only small note was that the senior lady who was serving was so eager to recommend their signature dishes that I think she kind of overlooked that we over ordered. I really think that her knowing the size and portions should have controlled the items recommended as any good restaurants would. I am not at a Da Pai Tong or Steamboat buffet. So I felt we really over ordered and that did dampened the excitement by the end of it. However in the spirit that she had really wanted us to try the best, I could understand why she didnt rein us in. Secondly, seeing that many items we ordered had such similar sauces, she could have altered the order to a better mix. Like pizza or something. Then again, I guess this is when experience as a serving staff comes in.

While we were there, 3 other guests had their birthdays and all the staff sang birthday song. I did too with my added surround sound of sing along and clapping. Well, that's me. Of course unlike in Australia, where most birthday people will thank the crowd for joining in the birthday cheer, typical Singaporeans will just smile and ignore every other stranger seated around them. "Great" friendly attitude my fellow Singaporeans. Must be all those years of brain washing of "Never talk to Strangers" in case u get mugged or kidnapped taking a toll on the mental well being of these lot. You wonder why people are saying Singaporeans are a smile-less un-interactive lot.

Overall, I really dig this place and would come more regularly if only is was more accessible. However, I would recommend this place for sure for some of the great food highlights. Go check it out if you havent. You wont stay hungry for long in this dining spot. Just watch the waistline:)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Travel: Excellent Amankila Bali Trip!

Wrote a nice long review earlier on my trip but bloody blog decided to hang on me and didnt even save my long post. F*cking hell. I just hate being screwed by technology like that!

Anycase back to the empty drawing board....Sigh.
Rewrite...with half the humor and wit depleted.

This time round in our annual Oct trip, we headed for Bali. It has been a decade since our last visit and though we never did like Bali for its crowded expat volume as well as its touting and less than ideal sea conditions, we thought we will give it another go except my man decided to up the notch of pampering and booked us in AmanKila. We had really loved our Aman resort experience with 2 earlier resorts and this time round proved to be no exception.

Love it. Love it. Love it.

I guess if you are one of those like us who are just dying to get away from crowd especially loud noisy ones, want to feel like you own the compound with the sort of privacy and exclusivity and has the extra cash to pamper yourself, then you will love Aman resort for everything it lived up to.

It isnt cheap at about US1200++ anite but you get what you pay for, and practically the closest feeling of owning the whole resort without actually owning one. However, you get what you pay for. Excellent service. Privacy. Tranquil setting. No fuss, no hassle. Smooth logistics all the way especially at the airport where we were spared the horrendous long immigration Q that looks like a wait for hours with the masses, and we only had to wait for the Aman staff to clear the immigration for us under 5 mins. I was surprised that he even met us right where we step off the plane and guide us to another separate fast lane that lead us past the crowd and out off the airport when I was only expecting to see him after i stand in line through the immigration. I guess shelving out the dole at times has its benefits...

Apart from having a huge compound nestled in the midst of the coconut plantation and perched high up on the cliff facing the Lombok Straits, the resort has 35villas and frankly, at any one time, I felt like we are practically alone or have only one or two other couple sharing the place. Yet the truth is, I had counted at least 10 different couples at different times different days but I had never seen them all at one place at any one time.
Local gals are employed as flower gals, basically just to prepare flower rings to welcome guests and during eve time. Very sweet!

For the whole week, I never have to share the pool once. My own pool by the beach. Nice!

Because the main pool area is of 3 joined cascading pools, you essentially still own one pool each all by yourself even if there are 2 other couples, with the sun lounges and pavilion situated just before the pool side at each level.

There is another 45m single pool located at the foot of the cliff near the Beach club. We checked out the beach and it isnt as nice as Phuket though the sand was still fine and soft, it just wasnt as inviting with such strong pushy waves.

45m pool length view

45m side view from beach club house

We were told we had the best villa on the whole compound. We had the best uninterrupted ocean view from our patio and room, and at the highest vintage point. That is good too because I am furthest from the break waves and being light sleeper, that work out well.

View from our Villa 37 

Fresh welcome flowers!

Lunch all to ourselves almost everyday.

The amazing and astounding feat is that we never quite figured out how all the staff at the dining area and enquires desk are able to address us by names and room without us saying a thing. We are always greeted by name before shown to our seat. They must have amazing guest description communication briefing every day since there is no photo for them to rely on!!! It's a well appreciated secret that did not gone unnoticed!

Room aspect it was nicely spacious and they kept changing the free flip flop to a point I felt i was very ungreen and had to stash the used one so that I can reuse it. The rooms are broken into 3 segments, first with the sleeping/ study desk/ lounging bed area, then the 2nd area with free refreshment bar area/ lounging bed/ shower/pee area and lastly the sink/changing area.
Poster bed with sea view

Changing area at the back

Repellent was provided but I had no encounters with any mozzies. I love their song collections in their ipod provided in the room. Tv can be requested. The only problem for me sleeping in a poster bed was that I walked right into the column on the first night after I wanted to crawl back to bed after peeing. Wham Bang! Hard enough to wake my husband up but being so tired, I just curled up back to sleep and nurse the bump the next morning!

Housekeeping is so discrete and timely. They dont ever knock on your door. Never. What they do is to wait at the foot of the stairs where the guests will pass, and once they see the couple out of the room, they dashed up to clean up the room like those magical domestic elves!!

During 4pm, there are refreshments by the poolside. I was too lazy to wait for staff on hand so I part time as tea lady. Lol!

Free Refreshment during the 4-5pm slot.

At night, we had a Welcome Dance, which is a traditional ceremony dance of the Gods. It was lovely!

Realised that Fresh vegetables are really not a part of Balinese diet. Couldnt get much greens there. However, I love my Ayam Goreng, curry and Nasi Goreng. Yum! Their Passionfruit refilled daily was the best!!! My only gripe about the resort if I must is that menu variety could be wider. One page of western and one page of Balinese. I guess they didnt want to overstock.

My Balinese breakie. Fresh Egg porridge.

Balinese Dinner with Steamed Fish and curry. 

One of the days in the week, we went on free sight seeing trip within East Bali. Nothing much quite frankly. saw a wedding procession.
Wedding procession

The carps all flocked to me for no reason as I posed for my shot!

By the end of the week, I was sad to leave after the week flashed by so quickly. I was so tired after every day sun lounging that I didnt even get any reading done. Terrible me.... I was alittle too brown before I left and the staff kindly went to their nursery and plucked a few stalk of FRESH aloe vera for me to apply on my tanned area. After that, it was free cookies on the way, listening to my fav music on their supplied ipod while surfing with the portable free wifi in the car.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Designed for Humans?! If not Humans, then for whom?!!

Only just noticed Samsung Galaxy Mobile Tagline "Designed for Humans". Was mobile ever meant for animals otherwise...?

Of course I get what they are trying to say...that its interface is designed for efficiency and supreme convenience yada-yada, but do they even know that the slogan is just plain wrong reading it from an English speaker perspective?  Didnt Samsung team in the states have some say in the slogan?! I mean if you read the Mandarin slogan it definitely does NOT say the same thing as the English slogan.

I wonder what the slogan says in Korean? I wonder if it is a case of lost in Translation...


It was a subtle awareness that started about half a year ago. An interesting thing has come to my attention.

That is whenever I head out to shop or eat in HK, should I choose to go bare face wearing just T with shorts, there is a 50-50% chance that the staff will speak to me in Mandarin and the other half would be in Cantonese.

However, if I decide to just put on eyeliner with or without mascara, NO ONE will ever speak to me in Mandarin. They would either speak to me in Cantonese or English. It was quite funny that once while I was window shopping, the retail staff standing behind me without seeing me enter the shop started her sales speech in Mandarin but the minute I turned around, she said sorry and immediately swap to speaking English. Hahaha! I was really chuckling inside.

Today was even weirder, the staff at the Japanese tempura place for some reason decided to converse in Japanese while taking my order. Secretly I was happy...hahaha...did i even remotely managed to pass off as Japanese? hahaha! Are my Japanese-brand clothes and hairdo by Japanese stylist paying off? hahaha!

I was asking with my husband, do I look that ching-chong cheena without makeup?!! Why would they even think I look like Mainlander?! I didnt think that I look all that different! Husband being husband was of no help when I ask him for his views. Man! hahaha!

I didnt know which was worse, being mistaken as a Mainlander, or as a Filippino helper when I first arrived in HK 7 years ago (figured I was still too tan then and wearing tanktop, shorts with flip flop the bo-chap Singaporean style). I have had since completely let go of my Singapore wardrobe from then onwards and revamped it with everything non-SG bought clothes.

Anyway, so for a long time now, I havent gone out without minimally my eyeliner apart from grocery shopping! The last thing I want is to be mistaken as a ..... regardless if we share the same ethnic race. I rather be mistaken as an Indian, Vietnamese or whatever. Just not "...." please. No thank you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

While it's nice to be reconnected with some of my ex-colleagues, it can always be a damper when someone tries to burden you with their problems constantly.

There's a colleague whom in the past, has always had financial management issues. She had been around borrowing money from some common friends and though she did repay her loans, it's still not a very nice thing to constantly be known as someone who may ask you for money assistance anytime.

Recently, we got together just to catch up and before long, she started to pour her life miseries on me. Okie, as a friend, I am fine to listen to you and share some life experiences. However, she started to call and cry on the phone and say she lost her money which she was to repay her mum and that her mum do not believe her etc. I didnt know if she had wanted me to offer her money. It wasnt a big sum but HK$1000 is not the same as HK$100, and plus I really dont want to make it a habit for her to constantly approach friends for money when it is not critical. So I didnt offer her but told her to just tell her mum that there is nothing she can do if she dont believed her. Plus, it isnt that she isnt going to pay her back, it's just delay for a month until her next salary. Plus I told her, why couldnt she had just do a bank auto transfer than put the money in her pocket and dropped it? Seriously, who will put HK$1000 in a pocket just like that carelessly when it's 1/9 of your monthly income?  Honestly I told her, apart from nagging, what can her mum do seriously.

My friend didnt ask me for money, but the topic never stop revolving round it. Personally, I found it kind of draggy.

Everyone has our own problems. It's one thing to have someone listen, but another to give the kind of signal as if you are expecting someone to help you out financially. Between family is ok, but between friends, I have a personal policy not to loan friends money unless it really is a matter of life and death, which in this case I deemed it not to be.

Had wanted to go do some exercise yesterday but got held up by her phone call for over 2 hours and ended up unable to go ahead as planned. Couldnt even do my homework since it was too late by the time I finished dinner and all.

Today, just when I settled down to do some work, she texted me again to ask if she could meet me again tonight. I had a choice, to ignore my own responsibilities as a student and abandon my work or go out and listen to her sob story again. I decided against meeting her. I need to prioritise myself and owe it to myself to do the stuff I need as well. So I told her I really cannot meet her as I have homework to do and my class is tomorrow. Perhaps it may come across selfish, but selfishly, I dont want to be dragged down by someone life miseries and wallowing in self pity.

Granted that her mum is money-face and all based on her story, but there is nothing she can do. So talking about it wont make it go away and indulging in the matter emotionally will lead to nowhere.

We all have our family issues. It's not the issues that make us who we are. Its how we view and deal with the problems that makes us stronger or weaker.

So I am sorry my friend. I really dont want to listen to your negative stories all week long.
I need more uplifting things for a change of mood. You are already 30years old. You should have your own directions and learn to deal with things on your own. No one can always be there for you. That is the facts of life.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another one of those conversations :)

Part I
Me: ... mine isnt a pixie face rite?
My man: Yes, U have a pigsy face. (Laughing away...)
Me: You bitch. (Laughing away)
My Man: Pigsy Face.
Me: Shut up Princess.

Such delightful pre-dinner banter as always... :)

Part II
*Heading down the escalator*
My Man: Pigsy Face
Me: (Took a big bite on his shoulder)
My Man: (screamed) Ta MA DE! (a new chinese phrase I taught him this morn)
Me: Yes! That's the way to say it! (HoHoHo...laughing away..)
My Man: You bitch! (laughing in pain)
Me: Stop complaining Wussy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A home cook dinner...from my guest

So freaking excited my brother and his gf came over to stay with me for a short holiday over the last weekend. After eating out for several days, his gf proposed to cook us dinner on Friday since we had got nothing planned after a fulfilling dim sum lunch at China Club.

While I am into Asian food, my bro's gf is completely into western dishes. So she decided to make us pan fried foie gras with quince paste, & duck confit with mandarin fruit, as well as parma ham and melon.

I was definitely happy to be sous chef for a change. Good thing my kitchen is well stocked up:) It was definitely fun having 2 people cooking than just me alone...I just the chit chatting and exploring & experimenting was the best part

While making the foie gras, it was a good thing I had quince cube that I brought back from Portugal. Went really well together!

The duck confit was with baked potato was pretty decent but I think she overcooked the breast. However, considering it was all pulled together last minute, I think its effort well deserved of praise! At least she tries to cook for starters....

halfway through the meal, I suddenly rem the beetroot relish and took them out. It definitely went brillantly with the duck confit!

For dessert, we couldnt do without my fav New York cheese cake from my fav store!

(The new location has been moved to Hysan Mall - 6th floor)

Beauty: Holika Holika cosmetic purchase

I went abit crazy today at the new Mall Hysan Place. Pop over to see what was interesting and ended up home with a stash of makeup stuff.

To be fair, I havent bought any makeup stuff since I quit and that's like about 5 years now. I had been surviving on my cosmetic stash left over from work days.
Holika Holika has finally started their first branch here in Hk at Hysan Place. It's a Korean cosmetic brand. I walked in with intention to replenish my mascara and ended up with more than I expected.

1. Aura Luminous Highlighter.
Okie, I confess, I was suckered in primarily for the brush in case first:) However, the highlighter really worked, or at least it worked way better than Shu Umera's version. This has staying power and def created the definition when applied at the nose bridge and under eyes.

Verdict Update 2013: This is very good! Highly recommended!

2. Hello Holika multi-colour blusher.
The cat got me. Okie, the colour swayed me too. It definitely has that natural blush look after application and it saved me having to mixed a few blush colours. The powder has a shimmery effect and i guess that helpes to brighten the face. I really like this blusher!

Verdict Update 2013: I love the natural look. Highly recommended!

3. Pure Mellow- Skin Tuning Kit 
Initially I was gonna get the jelly starter kit which has a really nice powdery texture.
However the sales gal told me this is way better, esp it has that colour correction effect, with the 4 different colours mashed together in one squirt pump. I have just tried it one and after one hour in non aircon far so good.

Verdict Update 2013: Not sure if its my oily skin but this didnt quite do it for me. I will Pass.

4. Magic Pole Mascara.
Okie...I was hesitating about this. I bought it because of the ball end applicator for easy application at the tip and end of the lashes. However I am so used to my quick dry Anna Sui mascara that this got me alittle surprised that it didnt dry on my lashes immediately. So when I blinked, some of the black ink smudged my eye lid but, because it wasnt quick dry, I could also wipe it off rapidly without feeling a black spot. So after one eye, I quickly used tissue paper to wipe off the excess from the lashes itself immediately after application to avoid colouring my lids when I blink. Otherwise so far so good. It is supposed to be relatively rain proof..we shall see when my lid area starts to secrete more oil after half day..

Verdict Update: I didnt like their mascara. It smudges and its quite annoying to apply onto the lids...I really hate this. I will revert back to Anna Sui mascara. Dont buy this.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 ex-maids fined for "moonlighting", I just think it is pure over meddling...

This is when I think its "over-meddling".

3 ex-maids fined for "moonlighting"

True, general workers shouldnt be moonlighting in other firms or forced to work in multiple locations  IF the person involved is reluctant (since forced or directed by employer means no additional income for the helper)....

HOWEVER if I am an domestic helper employer and IF it is what my helper desires to do on her off day, I RATHER have my domestic helper earning her keep on her off day at someone's household than be loitering on the streets. In many counts, I would thought it is more beneficial for my helper to have additional source of income from her skills, less headache and fear for me that the helper will be accquainted with undesirable influences out there or being "forced" to fritter away their time in the mall etc. Of course if the helper so choose not to work, it's her right as well.

Some of these helpers have a huge financial committment and some would prefer to do anything to reduce that debt in the shortest possible time. So in this sudden unnecessary interest by the authorities & meddling, i find it a lose-lose situation.

Plus, isnt Singapore crowded enough on weekends? How many more people u want out there on the streets? Additionally, how many more foreign workers the country want to let in as domestic helper, like for every household? Not everyone needs or wants a helper 24/7 or wants to be liable for someone else apart from the hours that she is working for them. Plus our local business supply of part time help is overpriced and low in supply... Not that I believe it is the case but for the sake of throwing it out there, is this some ploy to help NTUC promote their home helpers?

Before the govt tries to clam down on illegal moonlighting, then please, try to provide free or discounted training for local citizens to perform domestic chores as part of their income, or support local SME to provide affordable services to replace the gap left by foreign helpers working beyond their employers.

This is what I hate about Singapore "by the book process" sometimes, always try to close the loophole without providing a viable alternative channel first. The problem isthat these foreign workers cannot come work in Singapore as hourly rate part time helpers without a sponsor in the first place, so they couldnt be working as legal full time "hourly rate" workers in the first place. So care to tell me then what are the alternatives? Many including myself had tried the local help and frankly, they are just not as good, detailed and attentive as some of these part time domestic helpers, not to mention ALL the freaking restrictions like I only get to choose either certain hours package, with some even trying to CHARGE for EACH item ironed. So smarty pants, any solutions?

Okie...just ranting away as usual...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hysan Place: Looking forward to the grand opening of new mall

One of the perks about living in CWB is that shops are constantly changing and I am so near all the great malls and shops, though I do hate the high rental squeezing my fav cheap shops out of business..
Still, I am now anticipating the biggest latest happening a stone's throw away from home.

Apart from A&F opening in Central Peddler Building on 11Aug, I am rather more excited about the opening of the new mall- Hysan Place  near my place this coming Friday, 10th Aug. From then till 25th Aug, it will be opened till 12 midnite!  (The place was jammed pack even at to midnite as evident from the photo!!!)

Apart from Taiwan's Eslite bookstore launching flagship here (supposedly biggest in HK) taking up 3 floors, happy that DFS is also having a new branch here for their cosmetics brands. Great! Save me trip to TST DFS from now on!

Apart from some common brands, other retail stores are brands (eg: Double Standard) that supposedly isnt available in other malls and making a splash in HK for the first time. Good thing is that there isnt gonna be another mall stacked full of pricey high end luxury fashion but the stores seemed to target more on youngster with purchasing power. 

More info:

遍佈日本全國的DOUBLE STANDARD CLOTHING,將以成熟又富女人味的姿態首度駕臨香

"Street Formal", 「街頭風」x 「正式感」的結合表現了「成熟女性的俏皮心態」,為日本時裝界帶來新的刺激。堅持理念與美學的態度、與撩動女人心的甜美款式,snidel創造出始終引領新時代的街頭時尚。

SHEL'TTER TOKYO 今年4月正式於表參道開設全球首間旗艦店,半年未滿即殺
入銅鑼灣,透過旗下一眾品牌,如moussy、SLY、Rodeo Crowns、 rienda、 SHEL'TTER 以及配飾品牌suerrow,將東京的時裝與生活元素帶來香港。以後大家揭日本雜誌時,不但睇得到,更買得到!


The entire 6th floor, known as "Garden of Eden" will be devoted to women with offerings from skincare, accessories, pedi, lingerie etc.
香港的女孩子有福了!Hysan Place在6樓特意打造了專為女士而設的樓層,名為「
Garden of Eden」。由本地著名室內設計師Alex Choi精心設計,以伊甸園為主題建構出只屬於女士的秘密花園,從護膚、修甲、內衣、小配飾等撼動女人心。


There is also gonna be Jasons Food & Living ( at Hysan place. I certainly hope it will be an even better supermart place (if it is a supermart place) than citysuper... the pictures looks really promising ... Just occured to me that HK supermarket in general have better ambience and decor, plus variety than those in Singapore such as NTUC, Shop & save or even Cold Storage...Perhaps its something the chains in Singapore should look into oneday:)

*All pictures & brand info are from Hysan Place FB page.

Catching up over dinner and something new to learn...

Havent met my ex-colleagues for quite some time now, with a few since I left the company. So it was a pleasant surprise and with anticipation to join them for dinner upon invite from my replacement. 

Headed to Wu Kong Shanghai Restaurant now relocated to Lee Theatre and dinner was surprisingly pretty decent actually. We had the 6 pax set dinner and it came out to about HK275 each. My fav was actually their crispy skin chicken. The cabbage soup was good, but the pan fried meat bun wasnt as good as Xiao Nan Guo Shanghainese place.

Lots of laughs over dinner. Lotsa catchup. Guess over the 5 years, alot had happened. Ex-colleagues who had been reposted overseas such as Singapore, or had new jobs elsewhere had all apparently all headed back to Hong Kong. I guess I really should stop being so lazy and try to catch up with more people!

Learnt 2 things over dinner today. That some Hk people believed that it is important to have "backing" behind your seat. So if you cannot have a wall behind you, what they did was to hang a yellow or brown jacket over their seat to symbolise "mountain" (related to earth). The jacket is never worn by the way. Apparently, sales people would also prefer not to have window seat with the sea view behind them as compared to mountain view.

Second thing learnt tonite.
There is this term called "飞机骨" in Cantonese.
It refers to those sexual massages in those indecent "chinese massage" parlor in China and Hong Kong...
If you book a private room by yourself, it is very likely you will be accosted by the masseuse. Some would ask, some would just massage those sensitive close to private areas and if there is no "objection", it is assumed that "extra services" is expected....

Every other day in HK, there is something new to learn:)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Conversation over tea with a gf

A fren shared with us recently that she had thought about going under the knife. I was kinda stunned and asked her why on earth would she think of something like that when she is only 33yr and especially when there is absolutely nothing wrong with her face.

She claimed that she has sagging eyelids. None that was noticeable to me nor my man. In fact the only thing that had stopped her in her track was $. Accordingly, she was quoted over SG$8k to have her lids done. The amount to me was frankly staggering ridiculous, especially when she isnt earning alot, but most of all, there is NOTHING WRONG with her face. Ok I will admit upfront I am the sort who is anti-cosmetic surgery and anti-tattoo without a real purpose. Basically I cherish my own skin that my parents gave me, and while making statement is all jolly good, I prefer something that is reversible.

I shared with her candidly that I didnt think it was necessary. Personally, cosmetic surgery to me is best suited for people with actual needs like some birth defects, or accident recovery or for some people who really do need the makeover to instill some self confidence through boosting their looks. Otherwise, it's really pure vanity misplaced.

Obviously my fren kept on talking about her other girlfriend who had cosmetic surgery done to her lower jaw, and how she was so "brave" that she had the operation done via inside the jaw rather than out so that it wont leave any visible scar.

I told her, obviously her friend had not learnt painful lessons from Michael jackson. My friend's defense was that he was a freak case. True but I asked her if she realised that cosmetic surgery will never be a one time thing. It's like telling a lie, you need one to cover the other over time. For some, they will never be completely satisfied because as we aged, our features and elasticity change etc, and there will always be more work to be done or redone. Then my fren tried to explain that she wont get addicted as she only got one tattoo and not more even though people said tattoo was addictive. I didnt want to remind her that she was bitching about the pain and honestly, I didnt even know wat kind of stand or statement she was trying to make by having her hip inked.

At the end of the day, it's not my decision and she isnt related to me for me to actually want to sway her off the track.

I know her desire for botox and cosmetic surgery stems from the fact that at 33yr, she still didnt have a boyfriend. Her last relationship being 11 yrs ago. Doesnt help her case when she has some expectation of the guy she wants to date, and the type of guys she wants to date frankly will not date her. I hate to say it but i can sense her desperation because she really isnt ugly but the only thing that stands between her and men, her plus size.

She is a big gal. Factually stating and not being malicious, the size of her thighs is prob about 2.5 of my arm. So she has alot on her and alot to work on... She is nice, sweet and a pleasant face, but the world is cruel against people of plus size, esp for gals. Men are visual creatures. I remembered once we went somewhere together and she seemed interested in the guy. We ended up chatting together and exchanged numbers. She was hoping the guy would call, but he didnt. I had to stop her from being stupid to want to call the dude at 3am after a few glasses of wine. I didnt tell her till this day that the guy had actually called me instead and it was obvious that the guy wasnt interested in big size gal regardless how chirpy or sociable she is.

I had desperately wanted to grab her by her arms and shake some senses into her, that in fact, rather than spend $8k on cosmetic surgery on something she didnt need, I had wanted to tell her she is better off to use that money to pay for personal instructor to get the weight off. I bet if she take off 10kg, she will be instantly attractive and open up her pool of men choices. Unfortunately, many women  would rather take the easy way out than work on the problem...exercise.

She asked me how to get guys to like her, seemingly that I didnt have problems connecting with dudes. I could only tell her confidence in self and stop seeing every guy as a potential catch coz it scares guys off. Plus, the fact that she "wanted to be wanted" makes guys wary and cautious around her. Now that isnt something that will exactly help sparks fly is it? ...

Let's face it, guys are often wary about gals who are overly desperate. Men in general prefer the thrill of the chase, they dont want someone easy or waiting for them to scoop them up.

Sigh...I can only hope one day my fren will wisen up, and stop relying on quick fix, waste money on fortune tellers, and just be brave enough to take a good hard look at the real problem. God gives me strength to have the courage to tell her in her face that her obesity is one major obstacle for her. All good and well to celebrate being true to yourself, but another to be a complete sloth and expect someone else to accept that.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Recipe: Chicken Pho

Since I am still enjoying my one week break from class, I thought I would challenge myself into making something new for dinner tonight. So for a change but not straying too far off, I opted to try making Vietnamese Chicken Pho tonite!

I searched around abit for a more authentic recipe rather than those half fusion ones like those featured in Masterchef Australia. I have never heard of celery and thyme in any Asian broth so I cut all those stuff out. Interestingly, I chanced upon a "true-blue" recipe written by a Vietnamese targeted for her American audience. (

I must say I am pretty proud of myself. Pulled it off nicely for my first attempt! Another recipe patted down good. It took way much longer than I expected for some unknown reason, but the soup was definitely good:) Amazing what simple ingredients pulled together make such a difference. I used all the ingredients in the link above except Cloves which I omitted because i forgotten about it in my shopping list.

What I did was to look through what ingredients she used and used the portions in estimate since I was too lazy to try to convert the weight measurement. Instinct took over for most part which may explain the longer than usual process.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Recipe: Steamed Moreton Bay Bug with fried garlic & chilli

Slowly compiling my culinary moments here. One of my recent meal, steamed flathead lobster aka Moreton Bay bug (as known in Australia). In Singapore it is called crayfish 虾婆 but that is a misidentification since actual crayfish means something else altogether from what I gathered.

This dish is one of my childhood favorite. The only way I like to eat it is steamed regardless of the other fried recipes out there. To me, if the seafood is fresh = alive and kicking when you purchased it, no point wasting good money to fry it. Frying is for less than fresh stuff or frozen stuff in my household.

Cooking this is so easy, almost kid's play.

Total Cooking time needed: 10mins.
Prep time: 10mins.

1. The bugs, in this case I bought 4.
2. Spring onion - 5-6stalks
3. Ginger.
4. 6 LARGE cloves of garlic -(coz I love fried garlic)
5. Sugar
6. Fish sauce - 2 teaspoon
7. Light soy sauce - 3 teaspoon.
8. Chinese rice wine - 1 tablespoon
9. Oil for frying garlic - 2 teaspoon. (Am using coconut oil. extra light olive oil is fine)
10. 1 chili - big or  2 small type really doesnt matter after they are deseeded and rinse.

Pre-cooking Steps:
1. Chopped the buggers into half or get the fishmonger to do it for you.
2. Washed out the veins and the nasty brain blob connected at the head if they are still there.
3. Optional: I like to use a toothbrush to give the shell a good scrub thorough. I think its good to clean the loose surface dirt away.
4. After rinse, pat dry with paper towel and line them flat on steam plate.

Garnish & sauce Prep Steps: (you can do this while the bugs are steaming)
1. Sliced then Chop the garlics into coarse bits.
2. Sliced then chop the deseeded chilli into coarse bits. (Make sure they are deseeded prior else it will be really spicy)
3. Heat oil and fry the garlic+ chilli mix until garlic is browned.
remove from oil and leave to cool on the side with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
4. Remove excess used frying oil from pot until about 1 teaspoon amount is left in the pot.
5. Mix soy sauce, fish sauce & 2 teaspoon of sugar into a small bowl.

Cooking Steps:
1. Slice ginger in 8 thin pieces. Lay them slice on top of the halves of the bugs.
2. Slice a few more thicker slices and randomly place them around the place. Basically ginger reduce any "fishness"
3. Take 2-3 thick stalks of the washed spring onion and roughly chop them into halves. We want the lower part with the bulb (root end). slice them into halves and lay them randomly onto the steam plate with the bugs.
4. Drizzle the chinese rice wine onto the bugs.
5. Steamed the bugs for 10 mins (over boiling water if using wok).
6. After the bugs are steamed, pour some of the "juice" from the steamed plate into the sauce mix.
Amount doesnt matter, its up to you but i normally use only 2-3 tablespoon worth. the rest discard.
7. Stir well the sauce and taste if its too salty, if it is, pour more water or add more sugar to taste.
8. When ready, pour sauce into the heated remaining oil in pot and quickly remove from heat when the sauce start to bubble. 
9. Drizzle the sauce over the bugs.
10. Garnish the bugs with the fried garlic and chilli.
11. Chopped 1 stalk of spring onion and garnish the dish. (optional)